Archive for the ‘#teastertuesday’ Category

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#teasertuesday: Later that night…

October 19, 2010

Bogged down by teaching commitments for the past while, I haven’t been able to do much work on my WIP: my comedic Regency mystery. To get myself back in the mood, I thought I’d post an excerpt on #teasertuesday!

This scene is the one I am currently working on: Sir Milburn has shown up in Caroline’s room in the middle of the night..

This excerpt takes place mid scene.

**

“What now?” I asked, with limited patience. “Has Lord Wavelry drunk too much Madeira again?”

“Actually, he’s gone.”

“Gone!” I laughed.  I couldn’t believe it, so I repeated it: “Gone!”

“Yes, gone. And I implore you, again, Caro, to keep your voice down.”

“What madness is this?”

“You may well ask.”Aggrieved, he ran his hands through his hair, messing it even more becomingly. “Somehow in spite of being guarded by myself and four of the best Runners in the country, he managed to give us the slip.  He’s eluded us all. We can’t find him.”

“What?”

“Lord Waverly. He escaped from my custody. About 21 hours ago. While we were in Hampshire.”

“What?” I was getting annoyed with my own repetitiveness. But—honestly: what? “How is that possible?”

“We underestimated him, that’s how. We thought he was drunk and he fooled us.”

“What?”

Sir Milburn stirred impatiently.

“Might we sit down to discuss this, Caro? This could take a while.”

So saying he stepped away and pulled the chair away from the vanity table.

“Uh—” I replied, hesitantly. He was supposed to be leaving, wasn’t he?

“Go on,” he insisted, gesturing at the chair. “You sit here and I’ll sit over here.” He now took the chair that belonged to the scroll top desk and placed it so it faced the other. Then he looked at me expectantly.

We were each deliberately ignoring the bed, a vastly more comfortable place to settle—.

“All right,” I sighed.

We sat—formally, primly—like two people meeting each other at a Barrister’s office—which was absurd. Just absurd. This was my bedchamber.  It was the middle of the night.   On top of that, we were dressed like a couple of refugees, with me in my get-up and he, with no jacket, no waistcoat, no cravat; a torn shirt. And no boots either, I realized. Just stockinged feet.

The better to sneak into my room with, I presumed.

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#teasertuesay: Garden Party Match-Making

September 20, 2010

Here’s today’s #teasertuesday entry, where our heroine, Caroline Honeychurch, is dragged out to the Elliot’s country estate to assist in a bit of matchmaking:

Good food, warm sun and congenial hosts quickly soothed our travel weary nerves—and then some. Within the hour we were conversing with the Elliots as if we’d known them half our lives. Lady Elliot told humorous tales about living in India that had even Mr. Rutherford smiling. Sir Eliot, Sir Rutherford and Mr. Eliot, meanwhile, discussed London life, in particular, life associated with Old Bailey (for Sir Rutherford had once been a judge).  They knew some of the same people, it turned out, and held similar opinions to each of them. It was all very wittily relayed.

All the while, the children were tossing a ball about on a grassy patch, laughing, and the dog lay to the side, panting and watching all with bemused good interest.

Mr. Percy Elliot sat between his sister and Miss Rutherford and joined in on the general conversation with the same comfort and verve as the rest of his family. I expected to hear more about his travels but when I asked him of it directly he said: ‘Oh, it was a right treat, but there’s no place like home,” and he winked.

“He’s being too modest!” exclaimed his sister, with a laugh. “It was dangerous and exhausting. Treacherous politically. Isn’t that right?”

“The Sultan is a good man. He treated me very civilly.”

“I was talking about the harem!” she teased, with a playful swat at his arm.

Everyone oohed and ahhed. Did he actually get to see the harem?

“Of course not!” he laughed. “That part of the palace is guarded more securely than than Regent’s dinner plans!”

“But you did hear stories…” prompted his sister, still with a glint in her eye.

“Yes, of course. And I’ll be presenting that along with other detail about social hierarchies and court protocol.” He turned to the rest of us, gave another wink. “Very boring, I assure you.”

“You do know he’s giving a lecture in London on Monday at the Royal Society?” his mother beamed proudly. “You are all invited. You really must come.”

Mr. Percy Elliot nodded, more serious this time.

“Please, it would be my pleasure.”

And he looked at Miss Rutherford as he said it.

She blushed—the first one I’d ever seen—and lifted her chin high: “Of course, we’d love to”—to which everyone seemed to heave a mental sigh of relief.

Well, well, I thought to myself, as I studied Mr. Percy Elliot more closely. He was, I had to admit, an altogether perfect package: tall, with an easy smile, laugh lines and smart greenish-blue eyes. For sure, he’d be devoured like a ripe peach by the Marriage Mart next Season; Miss Rutherford seemed at last to realize how fortunate she was to be having the first cast at him.

In addition to the tell-tale blush, she had been attentive to his every word…probably because he was intelligent and had lived an interesting life. He wasn’t all gambling dens and days spent eating beef at Boodles.

They would make a pretty couple.

I was supposed to be happy about that. If she found a match, her parents would be pleased and if they were pleased they’d be more inclined to persuade her to do what my Aunt wanted. Then my Aunt would finally resolved the matter of Mr. Henessy, the Rutherfords could exit stage left, and my Aunt and I could go back to our usual life.

But instead of feeling good, I felt hollow. This cozy scene made my throat tight and my stomach clench. The tarts and biscuits and apple cider were not helping as much as I’d hoped.

I asked, when there was a pause in the next round of amiable chatter, if they had any walking trails.

“Oh yes!” enthused Lady Elliot—and all the other Elliot’s chimed in. They had trails to the farms, the river, the fields. One had a golden meadow—and a marvelous view!

I thought I might be able to walk alone but the idea excited everyone’s attention.

A few more bites of plum tart; a few more sips of cider and beer. A few visits to the water closet. A few moments to gather hats and gloves and walking sticks.

Then everyone started off, languidly, the dog barking and skipping around our heels and the children dancing ahead like little fairies.

I really just wanted to be alone.

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#teasertuesday: Meeting Mr. Elliot

July 27, 2010

Here is my #teasertuesday entry. I have been fussing over this scene so much I can’t look at it straight anymore. I could really use some fresh perspective! Though I’ve edited and reworked it a million times, its still not quite how I want it. Have I got the right vibe between them? (Mr. Elliot: flirtatious, Mrs. Honeychurch: standoffish yet pleased/amused/intrigued). Any and all feedback appreciated!

Just to give you some orientation: my book is a Regency rom-com mystery. This scene takes place during the day trip to the Elliot’s country estate, the purpose of which is to ‘match make’ Mr. Elliot and Miss Rutherford (one of my subplots). Everyone decides to go for a walk but due to various circumstance Mrs. Honeychurch and Mr. Elliot (and the twins) are the only one’s continuing onward to the hill top meadow…

This is the second half of that scene, once they’ve reached the meadow.

***

Mr. Elliot stood beside me under the oak tree,  looking outward as I was—and glancing at me out of the corner of his eye, as I was to him.  A breeze ruffled the red leaves above us, causing the green ribbons on my hat to dance. I pressed my straw hat firmly in place then, resolutely, turned to him.

“Are you happy to be home?” I asked, hoping to deflect whatever was going on between us with jaunty and pleasant conversation. I had enough complexities in my life.

“Yes,” he replied, taking a step towards me. As he did so, my pulse leaped.  “Though I must confess, I do miss Istanbul. And Camlica. And Malkara. That’s the trouble with traveling. You come to adopt each local as your new home. Everywhere you go you leave a little bit of your heart.”

“At least no more bandits are chasing you,” I told him, in a rush.

“No,” he laughed. “I’ve only to face the Ladies of Almack’s! Frankly, I don’t know which is more terrifying! I might find I prefer rattling sabers to the Marriage Mart.”

I squinted up at him from beneath the brim of my hat.

“So you are indeed looking for a wife next season?”

“Yes,” he replied, gazing at me speculatively. “If I find someone suitable.”

“And Miss Rutherford?” I asked, pointedly, lifting my chin. “Is she suitable?”

He looked out at the view for a moment, his lively green eyes dancing all over Glorious Old England. His lips twisted slightly, as though savoring a secret he was about to tell—and my stomach sank—while my heart rose to my throat—

Oh no, I thought, how had this happened so fast?

“I’ve a confession to make, Mrs. Honeychurch. I only agreed to meet Miss Rutherford because I knew you would be one of her traveling party. You’re the one I wanted to meet today and I must tell you,  Fate has been very kind to me. I was hoping for a chance to speak with you alone and now that it’s been granted, I’ve decided I can’t let it pass, whatever the consequences.”

I stared at him.

He went on: “You intrigue me, especially now that I’ve met you and seen you as your own person. I should like to get to know you better, if you’ll allow it.”

“But—” I frowned. Though I’d half expected him to say something like this, my wits hadn’t quite caught up with reality.“But—what about Miss Rutherford?”

He shook his head.

“She’s fine enough, but not for me, I’m afraid.”

“You seemed interested in her on the patio!” I pointed out.

He shrugged, unabashed.

“I was playing the part drafted for me today.”

“That was dangerous!” I thought of her blush, her undivided attention.“You may have inspired interest on her behalf.”

He waved away my reproof.

“Oh, I doubt it. She’s here under sufferance, is she not? Her heart all ready belongs to another.”

“You don’t know that.”

He smiled.

“Of course I do. I listen to gossip. I know she still cares for Mr. Henessey. She as much as told me so as we were walking.”

“She did?” My God, that girl was insufferable, sabotaging our match making efforts the first chance she got! But then I  recalled her blush in response to Mr. Elliot again—something that just couldn’t be faked. Maybe her lack of interest wasn’t so certain? “I know she thinks that’s how it is for her,” I went on, heatedly. “But it could change, if she met the right person and fell in love again.”

“Perhaps,” he allowed. “But a man would have to be both patient and besotted. I may be patient, but I’m not besotted. Not with her, at any rate.”

“You could be, given time.”

His eyes twinkled. He seemed to be finding my arguing for his affections on behalf of another woman very amusing.

“Let me make this plain: I don’t want to be besotted with her. That is not where my interests lie.”

“Well, I do hope you intend to inform everyone!” I huffed.“They’re ready to pack your bags and send you both to Gretna Green with their blessing!”

He laughed. “Oh, we will let them down gentle, never fear. But later. No sense ruining everyone’s afternoon.”

I shook my head at him. This was audacious.

“You are playing a dangerous game,” I warned. “Trifling with another’s feelings.”

“It’s not a game to me. And the only feelings I’m trifling with are my own. I’ve put my own sentiments out there for you to see—and I’ve yet to receive a response, you know.”

“I’m not interested in remarriage,” I told him, stiffly. Then I realized with a start: even if I were interested, I couldn’t anyway…because if Charles was still alive, then I wasn’t a widow anymore, was I? No, I was still his wife. His wife. He could come by any time now and claim me like an old pocket watch, if he were so inclined.

I hadn’t quite thought of it that way before. I felt suddenly quite distressed.

“At least grant me the opportunity to change your mind,” said Mr. Elliot, ever persistent. Apparently, a man who could walk from Istanbul to Corlu with only a guide and a small pack of supplies rarely took no for an answer.

I shook my head. This was madness, I told myself. I shouldn’t even be having this conversation, let alone considering—

The twins ran up to us then, bounding out of the tall grass.

“Uncle, Look!”  Samuel cried, holding up his undone cravat. At the bottom of that long strip of linen, he’d tied a large rock, which dangled and swung, to and fro, like a pendulum. “We’ve got Napoleon’s head!”

“And for you, Mrs. Honeychurch,” said Jacob, bowing forward with a bouquet of white asters. “We’d like to crown you the new Empress of France!”

I accepted it, touched by their ridiculous whimsy. Oh, I thought, to be a child again. It seemed less complicated. But then I remembered my own childhood and checked that wish. It was the wrong wish.

Too bad I didn’t know what the right wish should be.

There was no time to consider it further: we heard a voice cry out behind us ‘hey, there!’. We turned to find Mr. Rutherford and Miss Rutherford coming up over the crest of the hill.

She had changed her mind again.

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#teasertuesday: Visit to the Dressmakers

July 6, 2010

Feeling emboldened from my last #teasertueaday foray, I’ve decided to participate again…

My novel is a comedic Regency mystery…its a bit of Jane Austen hyperbole…as I put it in a previous post:

Sometimes I say my novel is a ‘Regency Soap Opera’ because the plot is a little outlandish…but its all within the bounds of the era. French spies. Mad genius poets. Too much alcohol. Radical politics. Dopplegangers.

That’s how it was, in a way. Genteel with a Gothic underbelly.

Here is today’s #teasertuesday excerpt:

“Caro?” my aunt hissed beneath her breath and I came to suddenly to find Madam Foucoult, spry and wiry, with her grey hair pulled back in tight ringlets, studying me intently over the mahogany table top upon which she’d spread out several shades of lavender silk. I tried to focus on the fabric, wrenching my thoughts out of the past, but none of them would hold me. Nothing caught my eye.

I heard myself saying:
  “I think, perhaps, something yellow?” which raised my aunt’s eyebrows but Madam was ecstatic, ordering her assistants to pull out all the yellow fabric spools. Soon there were about twelve in a dazzling array, from palest butter cream to vivid daffodil and tropical sunshine.

Er…Now I was flummoxed. The brightness was overwhelming, inspiring second thoughts. Madam, sensing my hesitation, shooed me away, then circled the table, studious and concentrated, finally narrowing it down to three with a critical eye.

“You will be like the sun sparkling on water, yes? Like radiant sunbeams breaking through dull, skies, yes?” Decisively, she chose a solid buttery colour embossed with a silver diamond print. This, she said, with a Kashmir shawl in a slightly deeper shade.  Kid boots in cream. Gloves to match. Hair band studded with diamond shaped crystals. Pointed crystal earrings and a crystal cross on a silver chain about my throat. And my mask would be silver fabric ringed with tiny crystals and fringed with downy silver feathers.

My aunt nodded her agreement, then went on to choose her usual peacock blue, with a matching turban heavily decorated in jewels and ostrich feathers, and a black velvet mask, as was her standard.

Leaving them to their discussions of fittings and time lines, I fingered a filigree of lace on display and tried not to fidget.  I’d been thinking a stew’s mix since I’d woke that morning.

I kept wondering where they were now. What route they were taking.

Somerset was beautiful, mystical country, a land I both adored and abhorred and I couldn’t decide if I wished I was with them. Some sites were not meant to be re-visited.

Was I glad they were gone? I couldn’t decide that either. I had questions for them now. Demands. Requests. But if I had to face them again—just the thought made me choke. Lord Waverly, with his puppyish devotion. Sir Milburn, calculating and punctilious.  I didn’t think I would be calm. I might say or do things I’d come to regret.

Best just to let it lie? I wondered.

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Surviving Editing Madness

July 1, 2010

Recently, I participated in #teasertuesday. It’s where you post a snippet of your current work for others to read and comment upon.

I’d never done anything like it before, and when I found out about it I only had 2 days to prepare for it…2 days in which to frantically search my novel for an appropriate piece…and then try to make it picture perfect (or at least fill in those research blanks and make sure the dang thing’s spelled correctly!)

I’ll admit it. I came down with a bit of ‘Editing Madness’. You know, where you start examining each sentence, each word, asking yourself: is this the best way to express it? Is there a stronger, better, more specific verb? Am I being too repetitive here? Should I change this character’s hair colour? (My gosh, once again, everyone’s a brunette!)

In a way, this is good. It’s healthy to go over your work every now and then from the perspective of that Anonymous Reader. Put on their viewpoint and see things with ‘fresh eyes’. You can make your writing tighter that way.

But I had to remind myself…

1. Don’t take it too far! Not every word needs to be heavily imbued with meaning.  Not every line needs a fancy-dancy metaphor.

2. And don’t forget to take off those ‘audience eyes’ when you’re done! Its fine to wear them on occasion but if you wear them all the time, you run the risk of blurring your own vision. It’s meant to be an alternate, occasional viewpoint, not your permanent one. Use it to inform your writing; not dictate it!

3. And stay connected to your intuition! Don’t let that ‘critical’ reading morph into an over-urge to people-please, so that your noble intention to improve your writing becomes tainted by self doubt and anxiety… then nothing’s good enough and the next thing you know, you’re eating your own tail, trying to make it be all things to all people…so that when you finally do step away, you do so saying ‘huh? Where did my novel go? Why is it now about good-looking teenage vampires?’.

Stay grounded and confident in your original intent. Know where your interior boundaries are.

Know when to tell your inner editor: Ok, that’s enough!

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#teasertuesday a.k.a Putting It Out There…

June 28, 2010

I came across @Madison_Woods’ idea of #teasertuesday 2 days ago and decided on the spur of the moment to participate. I’ve never, ever put my novel on-line before. The only person who’s read any of it is my husband and my best friend Jen…so this is a big step.

It was hard to pick a selection. My book is a ‘comedic Regency mystery’. It’s a bit of a soap opera; a bit of a send up as it pays loving homage to Jane Austen’s era. It also has a lot of plot twists and so I had to find a scene that didn’t give too much away…

This scene occurs early on in the book, when we (as readers) first meet the Rutherford family at their dinner party…

(*Deep breath*. Here it goes…)

Eight o’clock that evening saw me standing in the Rutherford’s green chintz drawing room in their town home on Brook Street, doing my duty by my aunt.

“He’s the second son of a Viscount,” I was telling Miss Jane Rutherford, somewhat manic with my enthusiasm. “Pleasant looking. Moral.  Income of a thousand pounds. Attended Cambridge. Very intelligent. Speaks six languages. Has traveled widely in the east and has recently returned from an excursion to Turkey. He will be looking for a wife next Season.” She was to meet him next Saturday, six months before the Season even started. A perfect plan.

Miss Rutherford, of course, was only half listening, looking past me to the window, which was dark and showed our reflections. We were both brunette, and clad in vibrant colours: hers, blue, mine green. Each of us wore silver pendant earrings that dangled at the slightest movement as well as a cross necklace. My aunt had bought us a similar set, in an effort to bring us closer.

“Fine,” she said, bored.

Her brother, William Rutherford, neared us then, ready as usual to rescue his sister from my bad influence. Of course he was looking well—dark haired, dark eyed, refined—but then his looks had never been the problem.

He had barely greeted us when Jane’s mother beckoned her from across the room, a rather obvious ploy. We all shared a glance (her hopes for her son and I being totally transparent from the start) before Jane went off and Mr. Rutherford and I made dutiful small talk, alone.

“Well, well,” he said, with a tight little smile. “Second son of a Viscount. My mother is ecstatic.”

“I’m pleased to hear it,” I returned with deliberate sweetness.

“Of course my sister is not as impressionable. She is not as easily swayed by a thousand pounds and a family estate in Hertfordshire—as you well know.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “but she may take an interest in his collection of eastern artifacts, which is considered to be very fine.”

“Perhaps,” he allowed, grimly.”But I wouldn’t reckon on it.”

“Their mutual interests could very well engender mutual regard and affection,” I insisted—sounding, even to myself, ridiculous. I no more believed that than he did.

“A love match?” He scoffed.

“Of course.”

“A happy ending?” He scoffed again.

“Why not?” I countered, somewhat gruffly. “Does she not deserve it?”

Surely, he couldn’t find fault with that line of reasoning but he still looked displeased, as usual—the man always looked pained around me, as if he had a burr in his boots. And he was at the ready again to make comment–.

Thank god his friends arrived then, interrupting our dispute with their apologetic entrance. Living in Holburn, they were often the last to arrive.

Mr. Murray was an attractive, disheveled Scotsmen with bright eyes and a deep voice, who greeted me with his usual warm enthusiasm. His wife also gave me a gusty hello. She was an energetic, dark-haired pixie who no doubt had her husband’s neck cloth as taunt as a bow string upon leaving the house. Two minutes later, he would have rumpled it like sack cloth. Same with his hair.

Naturally personable, they gathered everyone round and started to rave about The Merchant of Venice, which they’d seen at Drury Lane last week—filling in each others sentences, how cute!

Theirs was obviously a love match.